Before I begin, let me be upfront and tell you that this article does not contain statistics. Just my unscientific opinion and 27 years experience in the field of advertising and the subject of using shock value to sell to the public.
That being said, can advertisers really change someone’s behavior by shocking them into reality? We all understand that cigarettes, drugs and texting while driving are bad for us. Yet, can we really change behavior based on unexpected and fearful images and language?
Most people change unhealthy behaviors based on a strong emotional belief that they need to change. A shocking image may grab the viewer’s attention, but if it is too scary or gross, most people will turn it off.
Most of us do generally agree when an advertiser has gone too far and crossed the line from clever to offensive. In doing so, these advertisers may actually create negativity toward the very product they are trying to sell. Consumers may avoid them like the plague!
However, if advertising is all about attention and buzz, then shock in moderation may be pretty effective in getting the pubic to see and remember them! To keep up the shock value, advertisers will need to keep going further and further because people become desensitized and accustomed to seeing outrageous things.
Maybe the pendulum should swing back from showing negative emotions and focus on the positive things that make us feel warm and cozy inside.
What do you think?